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09 Sep 2020

Compass builds its first sensory garden in a specialist disability group home in the Hunter

Compass Housing Services has teamed up with the Royal Botanic Gardens and The Disability Trust to build and plant a sensory garden at one of its new Hunter specialist disability accommodation properties.

Sensory gardens allow people to connect with nature by touching, rubbing, smelling and eating the plants. They use plants, water, and other materials with a variety of aromas, textures, colours, noises and shapes to invokes the senses of smell, taste, sight and sound. They are increasingly being used in public spaces, schools, in public housing, and for people with special needs to develop a range of new skills. 

Residents of the new, five-bedroom, group home in Mount Hutton will soon be enjoying home grown lettuce, tomatoes, herbs and bush tucker as well as citrus fruits. Additional trees will also be planted on the property. The garden is being funded by Compass Housing as part of its sustainability program.

Compass'  sustainability manager, Jandy McCandless, said community gardens are an important part of Compass’ tenant engagement and empowerment programs. Ms McCandless said this garden is Compass’ first truly sensory garden and its first in one of its disability housing properties.

She said in other gardens installed in Compass properties, there have been positive results above and beyond the expected improvements in nutrition and social interaction.

“Community gardens can help tenants to develop life skills as well as reducing social isolation and boredom,”’ Ms McCandless said.

Compass Group managing Director, Greg Budworth said residents of the Mount Hutton property used to live at the Stockton centre. The new group home is one of 69 being built across the region by Home4Life, a joint venture between Compass and BlueCHP. The homes will eventually house approximately 300 people.

Mr Budworth said that the Government has selected six Supported Independent Living (SIL) organisations to provide, highly specialised, 24-hour support at the homes. The Disability Trust manages this home and its staff will help residents care for and enjoy the garden.

“This is a new way of delivering contemporary, high quality, specialist disability accommodation and this sensory garden is a small but important aspect of how we are working with the SILs to create homes for life,” Mr Budworth said.

Brenden Moore from the Royal Botanic Gardens has helped Compass to create other gardens for tenants in other parts of the Hunter and NSW. He joined tenants to build a garden at a Muswellbrook social housing complex earlier this month.

“The Royal Botanic Gardens donates Brenden’s time and bring the hardware for building gardens, the plants and trees, and the knowledge to help residents to enjoy and make the most of their garden.”

Compass is a Hunter-based, Tier 1, not for profit community housing provider and an NDIS Specialist Disability Accommodation provider. It manages almost 7,000 properties in NSW and Queensland, including properties for people with disabilities.

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04 Sep 2020

Compass Housing Services supports Dungog Virtual Community Assistance Day

Compass Housing Services (Compass) is taking part in a Virtual Community Assistance Day being organised for Dungog residents by the Energy and Water Ombudsman NSW (EWON) and Hunter Water.

Those two organisations  have teamed up for a to help residents and small businesses resolve outstanding issues, obtain advice and access support services - all with a single phone call.

Compass is one of 12 other organisations who will take part to provide that one stop shop of support.

With the additional financial challenges faced by many during COVID-19, the event will help connect people, including Compass tenants, with agencies to provide support with their energy and water bills, as well as a range of other services to assist with tenancy issues, outstanding fines, as well as banking, superannuation and legal problems.

Energy and Water Ombudsman NSW, Janine Young said this event is well-timed with customers being more likely to experience high energy bills as a result of COVID-19 and spending more time at home in winter.

"Vulnerable customers were struggling to pay their energy bills even before the pandemic. It is likely that the severity of the situation has increased, as more people are experiencing greater employment uncertainty and additional energy usage affecting their ability to pay their bills," Ms Young said.

Hunter Water's Executive Manager Customer Strategy and Retail, Victor Prasad, said the water utility’s Account Assistance Team will be available for confidential appointments to discuss customers' accounts and provide individual advice about our support options such as payment extensions and interest free payment relief.

The event will take place on Wednesday, 9 September 2020, between 9am and 3pm.

To book your free consultation call 02 4081 5701.

Agencies participating in this event:

  • Hunter Water
  • Energy & Water Ombudsman NSW
  • Energy retailers - EnergyAustralia, Origin Energy and Red Energy,
  • Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman
  • NSW Trustee and Guardian
  • Australian Unity
  • Legal Aid NSW
  • Compass Housing
  • Dungog Shire Community Centre
  • Dungog and District Neighbourcare Inc,
  • Financial Counselling Hunter Valley Project Inc
  • Hunter Tenancy Advice & Advocacy Service.

Compass encourages tenants with general tenancy, housing application, transfer as well as emergency tenancy and maintenance issues to call the Compass Contact Centre direct on 1300 333 733.

 

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01 Sep 2020

Upper Hunter Community Garden Day

Compass Housing Services (Compass) tenants and other members of the community will join an expert from the Royal Botanic Gardens to build and plant two large gardens at Compass' Glenbawn Street social housing complex in Muswellbrook from 2:30pm on Thursday September 3.

The garden is an initiative of Compass’ local Tenant Reference Group. Tenants have been consulted and requested the garden include avocado trees, citrus trees, flowers and salad crops. There will also be a bush tucker section.

A recently awarded $2,000 community grant from Muswellbrook Shire Council will help fund equipment for the tenants’ ongoing maintenance of the garden and grounds.

Compass Housing’s sustainability manager Jandy McCandless said community gardens were an important part of Compass’ tenant engagement and empowerment programs.  Ms McCandless said Brenden Moore from the Royal Botanic Gardens has helped Compass to create other gardens for tenants in other parts of the Hunter and NSW.

She said in other gardens installed in Compass properties, there have been positive results above and beyond the expected improvements in nutrition and social interaction.

“Creating community gardens help our tenants to develop life skills, reduce social isolation and boredom as well as increase social interaction,” Ms McCandless said.

At Compass, we see our role as being much more than putting a roof over our tenants’ heads,” she said.

“By providing tenants with life skills, as well as access to education, training and mentoring, we can help to create pathways out of disadvantage.”

Muswellbrook based community participation officer Kristy King said the gardens also bring Compass staff and tenants together. She said gardening can also support good mental health.

“Compass runs a NSW Government funded Shout Out Mental Health program and a team member will be coming along to the garden project with afternoon tea for participants,” Ms King said.

“Anyone from the local community is invited to join us to get their hands dirty, enjoy some sunshine, and the satisfaction of building this beneficial garden,” she said.

The Glenbawn Street complex has 15 tenants.

Compass is a Hunter-based, Tier 1, not for profit community housing provider. It manages almost 7,000 properties across NSW and Queensland.

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20 Aug 2020

NEW HOMES FOR VULNERABLE PEOPLE IN WALLSEND

A dozen families have received the keys to their brand new homes in Wallsend, after the construction of two social and affordable housing complexes developed by Compass Housing under the NSW Government’s $1.1 billion Social and Affordable Housing Fund (SAHF).

Compass Housing’s Lyndall Robertshaw took Minister for Families, Communities and Disability Services, Gareth Ward and Member for Wallsend Sonia Hornery to visit a completed project in the Newcastle suburb of Wallsend to meet a resident of one of the new homes.

Darren Green, a single dad, is one of the new tenants who has received his keys and has moved in. The new home has space for his teenage son to stay.

”I’m incredibly grateful for the support I’ve received from Compass and am proud to call this place home,” Darren said.

In total, Compass Housing is constructing almost 500 new properties across the Hunter and Central Coast under the SAHF program. Thirty-four of those homes will be located in Wallsend.

Ms Robertshaw said Compass is extremely proud to be involved with the Social and Affordable Housing Fund initiative.

She said a lack of affordable housing options for low to moderate income people is a serious problem right across the country.

“The NSW Government is really leading the charge when it comes to new and innovative ways to deliver more social and affordable housing,” Ms Robertshaw said.

She said one of the most exciting things about SAHF is that it includes a tailored support coordination service to help tenants maximise their economic and social participation.”

“We’ve always said that community housing is about more than just providing homes, it’s also about creating empowered tenants and sustainable communities.”

Mr Ward said the NSW Government has the largest social housing building program of any State or Territory in nation.

“This project is an excellent example of the work the NSW Government is doing to boost the supply of social and affordable housing in the Hunter,” Mr Ward said.

“A strong pipeline of new homes is helping reduce housing stress and is supporting some of the most vulnerable people in the community.

“It’s wonderful to see these modern new homes and it’s even more exciting to meet the people and hear the stories of people getting a fresh start.”

SAHF is a key initiative of Future Directions of Social Housing in NSW, the NSW Government’s plan to deliver more and better social housing across the state and is on track to deliver more than 3,400 homes, with close to 2,800 properties completed or under construction.

 

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19 Aug 2020

Specialist Disability Accommodation helps people live in the community

Modern, purpose built, specialist disability accommodation (SDA) is providing people with a high level of disability to enjoy living in the community rather than in institutions.

NSW Minister for Families, Communities and Disability Services, The Hon Gareth Ward MP, was recently in the Hunter, inspecting one of 65 new group homes being built as part of its Hunter Residences program.

The purpose-built, five-bedroom home at Morisset will be a new home for residents transferring from the NSW Government’s soon to be closed Kanangra centre. 

Compass Housing Services is part of the Home4Life consortia which is financing, building and managing the homes across NSW for 325 residents who are also transferring from the Stockton and Tomaree centres.

Compass Housing Services Group Managing Director, Greg Budworth, accompanied Minister Ward on the inspection.

Mr Budworth said safe, affordable, housing is a fundamental human right.

“We believe people with disabilities have a right to live in a community, rather than an institution, and to participate fully in that community,” Mr Budworth said.

“This is a new way of delivering contemporary, high quality, specialist disability accommodation,” he said.

Mr Budworth said, with more than 200 residents having already transferred to their new home for life, he has seen how living in these purpose-built homes is changing those residents lives for the better.

During the visit Mr Ward said that smaller living arrangements provide opportunities for people with disability to participate more in the community, gain greater choice and control and receive tailored supports.

“Residents who move into this new home will have access to accommodation that meets their individual needs,” Mr Ward said.

“This not only marks the start of the transition into their new home, but the start of the next exciting stage of their life,” he said.

The other Home4Life partners are BlueCHP who has designed and built the homes and LightHouse Infrastructure has helped to finance the program. Compass will manage and maintain the properties. The Government has selected six Supported Independent Living (SIL) organisations to provide, highly specialised, 24-hour support at the group homes.

Compass has some limited vacancies in the new group homes, which are available to people who have SDA in their National Disability Insurance Scheme plan.

Mr Budworth said Compass has a long and successful history of managing homes for people with high and complex levels of support. It is one of the largest SDA providers in Australia, managing around 1070 SDA places.

Compass is a Newcastle-based, Tier 1, not for profit community housing provider and an NDIS Specialist Disability Accommodation provider. It manages almost 7,000 properties in NSW and Queensland, including properties for people with disabilities.


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